Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 741-761

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Sustainable urban greening strategies for compact cities in developing and developed economies

  • C. Y. JimAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Hong Kong Email author 


Urban greening contributes notably to quality of life and ecosystem services in cities. Compact cities in developing and developed countries are commonly beset by greenspace deficit. Based on literature review supplemented by field studies in different cities, a sustainable urban greening strategy is proposed. Urban renewal and new developments without a greening vision could miss the opportunities to bring relief. The public and private sectors can join hands to insert plantable spaces into the urban fabric. Urban greenspaces (UGS) with good connectivity forming a green network to permeate the city constitute the hallmarks of a naturalistic design. Preservation and creation of natural areas with rich biodiversity offer a new dimension to UGS design. Greening benefits could be expressed in economic terms to complement conventional ecological-environmental emphasis. Outstanding trees could receive high-order conservation efforts, and trees in construction sites warrant enhanced protection. Tree transplanting demands an overhaul in concepts and skills. Improving roadside tree planting and maintenance offers a cost-effective way to upgrade the townscape. Ameliorating widespread soil limitations could remove a major hindrance to tree growth. Innovative ideas of development right transfer, street pedestrianization, river and canal revitalization, green roofs and green walls could mobilize hitherto underused plantable resources. Lacking appropriate institutional setup and scientific capability pose intractable bottlenecks. Innovative public policies and greening technologies are needed for sustained improvements. Amalgamating natural and social sciences in a multidisciplinary approach and reinforcing the link between science and public policies could overhaul greening.


Compact city Ecosystem service Nature deficit Precision planning Sustainable development Urban biodiversity Urban ecology Urban greenspace Urban natural area